Napaling Reef in Panglao, Bohol

A (Free) Diver’s Paradise!

Napaling Reef, the Massive Drop Off and the Bohol Sardines are all Incredible!

Napaling Point, also called Napaling Reef, was once a secluded and off-the-beaten-path destination where even locals didn’t know how to get to. Now Napaling is lively, full of tourists, both local and foreign alike, and has become the most popular dive spot of (mainland) Panglao island.

Napaling reef starts at about 8 meters from shore – this easy access is one of the many reasons why Napaling has become so popular! The drop-off and reef are located in Tangnan, Panglao, Bohol. The scuba and freedivers, snorkelers, swimmers, and people just looking for a place to chill gather here. For the most part, the dive site is convenient and accessible by a good road, has resorts with all modern and needed amenities, and has everything you can expect from a fantastic reef.

The place is particularly great for divers – for both scuba and freedivers. Depth is available almost immediately from the shore – only a few kicks away, and you’ll have a 25m drop-off already. Scuba divers love to explore the steep wall with exciting caves and crevices. Sardine shoals can be found almost all year-round – making a spectacular show much to the delight of divers. Fishes are abundant, and colourful corals thrive.

This is heaven for freedivers – the reason we have been running freediving courses here since 2015. You can find depth close to shore. The drop-off is so convenient that you can train at any time of the day. Within 100 meters from the shore, 80 meters depth can easily be found. And only a few meters more, you will easily have 120 or 130 meters. Therefore not surprising that over the years, Napaling has been the host of many depth championships.

Similar to scuba divers, freedivers love exploring the reef as well. The steep wall is fantastic for freedivers of all levels, and even beginners and advanced freedivers will have lots of fun here. The wall starts at around three meters in depth and plunges to over 25 meters in depth. Lively fishes crowd the beautiful corals, playing with the currents, interacting with other marine creatures, including divers themselves.

Several dive shops have sprung in the last few years as the place gets more and more popular. Local and foreign tourists flock to this amazing place, enjoying the waters and the scenery.

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The Vibrant and Spectacular Marine Life of Napaling Reef

Napaling reef stretches hundreds of meters of the beautiful reef. A section of about fifty meters has been cordoned off – the high activity area where the Bohol sardines usually gather and where snorkelers and divers hang out to watch the spectacular show. The protection helps to prevent boats and fishers from entering.

The place also has a cliff jump, and even though people jump right into the shoal, the sardines never seem to be bothered. The sardines are warier of predators that lurk beyond the reef. There are needlefish prowling at the surface, waiting for an opportunity to jump off the surface and land on the bait ball. The reef has jackfish and barracudas in midwater prowling, and sometimes tunas and Spanish mackerels are attacking from the depths when the shoal lets down its guard and venture to the drop-off.

Aside from the main show, there are exciting and frequent visitors as well. Common green sea turtles can be seen hanging out by the wall, resting and sometimes feeding off from the algae growing. They compete with resident reef fishes that eat algae as well, such as rabbitfishes and surgeonfishes.

Rays can also be seen cruising the area. White-spotted eagle rays and manta rays as wide as 5 meters have been encountered many many times, especially by freedivers who train on dive lines a little further from shore. Some of them have experienced doing “hangs” at depth, and suddenly, a wild manta ray would approach out of curiosity.

And it’s not only manta rays that approach freedivers in Napaling point. Whale sharks are frequent visitors or the reef and drop-off too. Even one time, a juvenile whale shark hung out for an hour with freedivers, stopping them from training and indulging in playing with them. The freedivers had the best time of their life.

Since 2015 that we’ve been diving at Napaling Reef, we’ve seen many dolphins and whales like grey whales, minky, and pods of pilot whales up to 30 to 40 at a time. But the biggest and most surprising visitor of all was a blue whale. One fine morning, this massive marine creature of at least 20 to 25 meters long suddenly surfaced to breathe a few meters behind freedivers training on the line. They went wild! They scrambled to keep up with the massive mammal but could not as these powerful, gentle creatures swim fast without effort. They did get a glimpse of the biggest mammal in the whole world in its natural habitat – lucky ones, aren’t they?

People on the shore saw how massive it was – it just raised its head out of the water a little bit, and it already looked like a big dump truck. The people who saw it, especially the freedivers in the water, had an opportunity of a lifetime. Another sighting of a blue whale happened half a year later. It was early in the morning this time, and there weren’t any divers in the water yet. The fortunate ones who saw it were stretching in front of the sea and got surprised by the big spouts of the massive marine mammal.

You Want to Learn More About Freediving or Start Yourself?!

Join the Freedive Academy Panglao iMagazine, and every two weeks, we’ll send you an email with news, schedules for courses and online (free) events that everyone can join.

Freediving is an incredible sport, and it’s amazing what the human body can do. Subscribe to our iMagazine today and submerge yourself in a wonderful world on one breath!

After subscribing, please check your mailbox, we took measurements against spam, and we want to know you are real.

Freedive Training all year round

Though there are some days during the typhoon season that the waves are not great for beginner freediving courses, but it’s practically all year round that freedivers can just jump in and enjoy diving – be it for freedive training or just fun diving. The most insane sea conditions with flat waters and sunny skies would be during the southwest monsoon, locally known as habagat. The calm waters start when the winds shift, slowly beginning in February and March, and usually, around May or June, when habagat sets in, a glassy sea is common until early October.

 

One word: convenient

Not only is the diving in Napaling convenient. Long term stay in Panglao is, too, with the island life that you’ve been dreaming of. Travelling to Bohol is very convenient also, and the moment you arrive, you’ll be surrounded by coconut trees and beautiful nature and greeted and welcomed by friendly locals. Plenty of food options around the island as well, with dedicated restaurants for your special dietary needs. You can also do groceries if you want to cook your own food. There’s are different public markets around on the island, but malls in the city are better options if you want more choices. To top it off, everywhere on the island is super accessible – only 15 minutes away by scooter, including the nearby Tagbilaran city. Several apartments can be rented all over Panglao island – many ranges from basic amenities to fully furnished ones.

Freediving in the Philippines is quite the experience! The tropical island lifestyle, an incredible dive center and top facility and location, and our amazing reef and drop-off. We have been based here since 2015, and we love our Napaling reef and island!

Do you want to learn how to freedive or have questions, please contact us anytime? Also, do contact us if you want to join any of our courses. We teach freediving courses here at Napaling and are located directly on the only access road towards Napaling. We also teach freediving online via nice and entertaining Zoom classes almost every week. The same goes for our freedive instructor courses that we teach every few weeks online – we offer different options, but they are fun and entertaining.

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